India will start the vaccination drive for those in the 18-44 age bracket from Saturday as the country continues to battle the second wave of COVID-19.
However, some states have flagged the shortage of vaccines and expressed their inability to start vaccination of people above 18 years from today. The Centre on April 19 had announced a ''liberalised'' policy, making all above 18 years of age eligible to get vaccinated from May 1. It has also allowed state governments and private hospitals to purchase vaccines from manufacturers.
As per the revised rules, the centre will receive 50 per cent of the vaccines supplied; states and private hospitals will get the remaining doses.
As per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, more than 2.45 crore beneficiaries register themselves on the Co-WIN portal till 9.30 pm on Friday for the Phase III of the vaccination drive.
However, due to the delay in procurement of vaccines leading to a shortage, several states have said they won't be able to kick off the drive on Saturday.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on F
Some private hospital chains in Delhi commenced the COVID-19 immunisation drive for the 18-44 age group at limited centres in the country on Saturday, officials said. Apollo Hospitals sources said the drive commenced at its centres in Hyderabad and Kolkata, but not in Delhi. They said that they are waiting for the vaccines to arrive and that the immunisation in Delhi is likely to begin either by Monday or Tuesday.
Max Healthcare announced the drive will begin at "select hospitals in the network in the NCR of Delhi".
The drive is yet to begin at Fortis Healthcare since it is waiting for the vaccine doses to arrive, sources said, adding it will start later in the day.
Fortis Healthcare, in a statement, had said people in the 18-44 age group will be administered Covaxin for Rs 1,250, which will include the cost of vaccine and administration charges, at its "centres across north India from Saturday".
Max Healthcare had said all the hospitals in the network would be used to vaccinate the citizens as supplies of vaccine doses smoothen up.
"Presently, vaccines will be available at Max Healthcare facilities at Panchsheel Park, Patparganj, Shalimar Bagh, Rajinder Place (BLK-Max Hospital), Noida and Vaishali in the NCR," its statement read.
Three big private hospital chains -- Apollo, Fortis and Max -- on Friday had announced the launch of COVID-19 immunisation drive for the 18-44 age group at limited centres in the country from May 1, while the Delhi government said it will start the vaccination exercise once it receives doses from the manufacturers.
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said required vaccine doses have not been received yet for the drive, indicating that the national capital will not join the national-level roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination for people aged 18-44 on May 1.
He appealed to the people in the targeted age group not to line up at vaccination centres in the city on Saturday.
The third phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive to inoculate people aged 18 years and above will roll out in the country on May 1.
However, some states have said they would be unable to start the drive on day one due to the shortage of vaccines.
Kejriwal said his government has placed orders for 67 lakh doses each of Covishield and Covaxin from manufacturers which would be supplied in three months.